About The Author
John G is the owner/operator of his own courier business, which has also forced him to become a professional on how to manage lower back pain. Lifting packages and parcels for a living, he has had to manage disc bulges in his lower back, stemming from a lifting injury some years ago. This has caused severe nerve pain, muscle spasm, and other painful symptoms. Despite his permanent injury, John still manages to run a successful courier business around Melbourne’s CBD, and even plays golf most weekends – off a handicap of 8! Today, John shares with us his 5 Painless Points on how to best manage lower back pain. Thanks John-boy!
How To Manage Lower Back Pain
I’ve found that a combination of strategies working together have allowed me to continue living my life, despite my back injury. I’m certainly not saying that I’m pain-free, or that my back is cured, but it’s definitely allowed me to manage myself a lot better. It’s a constant process of improvement, and no-one strategy will solve the problem alone. Now more than ever (I’m 50 years young) I need to be more aware of what my body is telling me, in order to continue doing what I’m doing… That is lifting, driving, golfing, fishing, renovating etc. So, hopefully a few of you out there might find these tips as helpful as I have, here it is:
1. Lift Technique
Whether you’re a courier or not, you’ll no doubt be lifting things from time to time. Your technique is crucial when it comes to injury prevention and pain management. I put quite a bit of emphasis on my lift technique these days, even when I’m lifting an item that I don’t find overly heavy – it’s just not worth the risk. So remember to take your time, keep the weight of the item close to your centre of gravity, and lift with your legs, and not your back. If it’s too heavy, don’t lift it. Use a trolley where possible, or ask somebody for help. I’ve found this helpful resource on lift technique sums it up pretty well.
2. Regular (Modified) Exercise
For quite a while I neglected exercise after my initial injury. Things I was previously doing to keep fit were no longer working, so I just didn’t do them anymore. I gained weight, lost my energy, and my back felt worse. In recent years however, I’ve been on a modified exercise program that has allowed me to work within my limits, and still push me physically. Some days my back plays up, so I have to modify further, or give myself a rest. With the help of my PT, I managed to work out a program that kept me fit, and didn’t make my back pain flare up again. My motivation and energy increased, while my back pain decreased. No matter your injury, there is always a modified program that you can do.
3. Core Strength
Simply being aware of the pattern of core engagement has allowed me to decrease the risk of further injuring myself. Often, poor lumbar posture (lower back arch) can pre-dispose you to lower back pain. In order to manage lower back pain, postural corrective exercise and the development of greater core strength is crucial – and easy! These days, I practice my core exercises while I’m waiting for the little green man to cross the road… In addition, I try to do 15 minutes every second day of core exercises to support my lower back. The pelvic tilt, and the dead bug are both a part of my regular routine.
4. Eat Healthy
Maintaining a healthy resting weight was a massive factor for me when I was first learning to manage lower back pain. Proper diet is equally as important as regular, sustainable exercise when you’re trying to get fit, and stay fit. So, don’t neglect it. Healthy eating was a bit of trial and error for me. If it’s going to be sustainable, you really need to avoid fad diets. Do your research, find out what works for you, and stick to it. Remember, moderation is key!
5. Don’t Fight Fatigue
Something I need to constantly remind myself… I’m currently renovating my house, working full days, and playing golf on weekends. Even for someone without injury, it’s a big load. So, this rule becomes especially important. If you’ve been working/lifting all day, and you feel your technique and posture are starting to lapse, have a rest. You could be moments away from doing further damage, or sustaining another injury altogether. Sure, you can push yourself, but not past the point of pain, nor to the point of pain. If you’re going to effectively manage lower back pain, you need to learn this.
It’s easy to make excuses when you’re injured, but it doesn’t make life any easier. Whatever your injury, you should consider taking action to rehabilitate, and prevent further damage. You don’t have to stop moving, just modify. You don’t have to quit chocolate, just moderate. The recipe is simple if you’re willing to give the time and attention needed to effectively manage lower back pain. I hope these strategies help some of you as much as they’ve helped me, happy lifting!